About a year and a half ago I broke up with my boyfriend of 4 and a half years.
We got through a lot together, through college and going to different universities, I went through some mental health stuff that would have been a real struggle without him.
We were best friends, we never fell out, we laughed 95% of the time we were together, we trusted each other so deeply and were totally transparent with each other.
I’ve never felt so relaxed and myself before with another human. He was my world.
We moved in together after uni and after a few months of living there, I felt different.
We were always very different as people, he was an engineer and I was into the arts, so that paints a good picture!
He was very stable, reasonable, and matter of fact, head-led, whereas I am emotional, romantic and heart-led.
This difference was refreshing while we lived apart at uni, I got a break from my crazy life to stay in his calm when I visited him, and he got a bit of wild time when I came to see me and my wacky friends.
However, once we graduated and lived together, and for the first time ever, our lives were in our own hands, we could do whatever we wanted, I realised what we wanted from life was different; I wanted to travel, to explore, to go for walks and go for coffee and get dressed up sometimes and go dancing, he wanted to come home from work, get into his trackies, play on his computer games, and maybe get a takeaway on Fridays.
He always said we didn’t have money to do what I wanted to do despite me saying it’s not about money, going for a walk is free and as for travelling, you save up, but he never seemed too keen.
We also lived in a horrible area which we were going to move from originally but he decided he wanted to stay in his current job as he really liked it.
I understand this didn’t help; I felt like I couldn’t even take myself for a walk as I didn’t feel safe going out on my own (I was followed by creepy men a few times on my way to work).
I suddenly felt trapped; is this my life now? Forever? I knew I’d regret it if I stayed. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
I cried so much that my face was so swollen I couldn’t open my eyes. I’d also never seen him cry like that. It broke me into a million pieces. I was so sure I’d made the right decision. So sure that the reasons I left were things that were never going to change so I had to do it.
But even now, I think about him every single day. I still can’t listen to breakup songs without it feeling like a knife is being plunged into my chest and tears springing into my eyes. I’m crying like a fool whilst writing this.
Even though I’m with someone new, who I’ve officially been with for almost a year, (we met on a job just before the breakup, not great timing but I’d never been remotely attracted to anyone else the whole time I was with my ex, so I saw this as a sign that things had changed in me).
He is perfect for me, also into the arts, super motivated and driven, wants to travel, into his health, really funny, smart and sexy as hell. Although maybe I met him too soon and potentially needed more time to recover on my own, I was really REALLY infatuated with him and if anything thought being with someone new and someone so perfect for me would help me heal faster too.
So why, a year and a half later, am I still hurting so much? It doesn’t seem to have eased at all. Did I do the wrong thing? Am I just taking a while to heal or am I ignoring my heart’s desire? I don’t know what to do.
Jessica Leoni, sex and relationship expert, said: “Wow - what a wonderfully vivid letter - you sound like a great catch and such a fun, exciting, young woman with a real joie de vivre. It is no wonder these two guys are both really into you.
“Let’s deal with boyfriend number 1. I don’t doubt that he would have you back in a heartbeat but, please, don’t go there. You broke up in the first place for the very good reason that you are chalk and cheese and if you had stayed with this man he would have stifled you and stopped you from making the very best of your life. Leaving him may well have ‘broken your heart into a million pieces,’ in your memorable phrase, but it was the right thing to do. Do you really want to go back to that flat in an area so dangerous that you feared leaving your own front door with a weekly highlight of a Friday night takeaway? You rightly concluded that you wanted more from life and made the brave decision to walk away when I have no doubt that you still loved your boyfriend deeply. Lots of people don’t show that bravery and readily settle for second best. What really counts against your boyfriend for me is his selfish desire to stay in that ‘horrible area’ even though you felt in danger. What kind of man does that? You clearly prefer to dwell on more positive memories of the relationship which is why you are struggling to move on but, remember, that big college romance is always going to be one of the most important relationships of your life. We all think fondly about our first true love and wonder ‘what if’ if we tried again. Most of us are sensible enough to realise that if we do go back the result will be exactly the same. Please don’t break his heart again and try to go back.
“Let’s move on to boyfriend number 2. He sounds great and a big improvement on boyfriend number 1. Clearly he is suffering in your eyes by the ‘grass is always greener’ syndrome but I think he sounds like a keeper. He is ‘really funny and smart and sexy as hell’ - you have ticked virtually every box in the book with that description. I really do think you will struggle to find better.
“In terms of your hurt, it will go away in time. Clearly, it is still there 18 months later which is a long, long time when you are in your early 20s. I think the fact that hurt won’t go away just shows what a lovely, empathetic person you are.
“To answer your questions: you didn’t do the wrong thing - you did the right thing. Stick with boyfriend number 2. You are not ignoring your heart’s desire - you are reminiscing about all the good aspects of your first love and somehow overlooking the grim reality which killed that love.”
Jessica is a sex and relationship expert with the dating site, IllicitEncounters.com
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